A pleasant surprise

Evening Sky over Gayton Marina

OK, I know it’s been a while and we even had a comment shouted from a passing boat that we had not done a blog post for ages. If I’m brutally honest we have just had so many other things going on that I kind of forgot about the blog so hopefully from here on we will try and be a bit more consistent as we do spend half our lives aboard Hannah the Narrowboat.

As we lost a couple of months due to Lee’s unforeseen illness we did not really get the usual summer break for a grand adventure so we thought it would just be nice for her to book a bit of time off work and spend the first part of October solely aboard the boat. Of course we still need to keep the pennies rolling in but I am fortunate enough to be able to work almost anywhere I can get an internet connection.

As well as just getting away from it all for a bit of relaxation we also have a rather long list of jobs that need doing aboard Hannah including replacing the hatch and the door frame as both were pretty rotten so this was not going to be all about sitting around sipping wine whilst watching the world go by unfortunately!

When we arrived at Gayton Marina we were pleasantly surprised to see five familiar faces approaching us, our friends Martin, Sarah and their 3 greyhounds Banksy, Lucy and Abby. They have been having a bit of trouble getting their washing machine to work properly with their inverter so an engineer had been out to have a look and decided it was poorly and needed a new switch which he would have to order. Martin and Co. are continuous cruisers and had come down this was a couple of weeks ago and as they had to wait for parts they decided to moor up in the marina until they get things sorted.

The Green Room

As is the norm for a Saturday night when we arrive it’s Chinese and pink wine night and tonight’s mood lighting is green – we love our colour changing lights in the lounge! We like a lazy night aboard Hannah in front of the TV after we arrive and it was not too long before we settled down for the night with our bellies full and our heads slightly woozy.

I awoke to the sound of my phones alarm as I had an early start – F1 was on the TV and for once I was glad I made the effort as it was perhaps the best race of the season so far. I do like my F1 but if I am honest the last two or three seasons have been pretty rubbish. Once we had eaten breakfast our friends wandered over and we all sat around outside drinking tea and putting the world to rights for a few hours which was nice. Lee and Sarah then went off to do a food shop whilst I got on with a few little jobs.

Lee catching up on Facebook

We all spent a nice evening aboard The Pride of Nuffield (Martin and Sarah’s boat) drinking a few beverages and having a good old chin wag, happy days. All the fresh air got to us and we were in bed by 10.30pm which is very early for me!

Excited and Nervous

Hannah the Narrowboat

At present we probably spend half our time aboard Hannah the Narrowboat and half our time in a brick box – I prefer the boat! I don’t really like our house anymore, well actually I don’t like where that house is located – Luton. So with that in mind it is getting close to the time where we want to move so one way or another we are going to have to clear out 24 years of junk we have collected that is sitting on the loft, garage and shed. We do not own our brick box and have no desire to own a brick box at all so after a proper chat with the better half we have come to a decision and it’s really quite exciting! In March 2018 we plan to be aboard Hannah the Narrowboat full time which will save us a fortune on rent which can then be ploughed into renovating the boat. We’ll try it for a year or so and if we decide we really do want another brick box then we can rent one nearer the boat in Northamptonshire.

Ducks on the Canal

So here we are then, a year to sort ourselves out, sell all the stuff we have not used or even seen for years and plan our new life aboard the boat. It’s all very exciting but also a tad nerve racking as there is so much to sort out. Some people think we are mad but I think of it like this, when I am sitting in the brick box watching a large screen TV from a distance of 10ft it is not different to watching a 24″ TV from 3ft – I am still doing the same thing! We will of course need to think carefully about storage solutions and that type of thing but in essence we don’t need 45 t-shirts, 8 pairs of jeans and 6 pairs of shoes!

I kind of think we are half way there already as the boat has many of the gadgets I need already as I have already installed them all. We have solar, we have 240v, we have a fridge, we have a microwave, we have bluetooth audio throughout and  much more – all we really need is some way of washing our clothes and some way of storing my studio gear (which I will cut down the the bare essentials). Technology has already allowed me to have a full room of recording equipment shrunk down into a Macbook Pro!

So, that’s where we are for better or for worse we are going to dip our toes into living aboard our beloved narrowboat full time – wish us luck, we may need it!

A walk along the towpath around Gayton

Sunset at Gayton

We are so lucky to have such an amazing back garden, yes that is how we see this beautiful part of the Grand Union Canal around Gayton in Northamptonshire.

Although the day started off quite misty we watched it lift from the warmth of Hannah the Narrowboat before deciding to get out there and enjoy the countryside on our doorstep. This video gives a good idea of what life is like when you abandon the confines of a brick box and get out there and enjoy life. The music in the background is by yours truly, a bit of a rest bite from the usual pop rock I write with Sanity Bypass!! Hope you feel completely relaxed after watching.

A Winters Walk around Stoke Bruerne

Stoke Bruene in Northamptonshire

We awoke up to a lovely warm and cosy boat this morning whilst outside the marina and canal was frozen over. We decided there would be no going out ice breaking on the canal so instead took the short drive down to Stoke Bruerne to blow off the cobwebs from our chinese and pink wine night the evening before!

Stoke Bruerne is a lovely place whatever time of the year it is and there is always a bit of a buzz about the place with people meandering around out for a walk or just to take in the idyllic sight of working boats and private narrowboats alike. We decided we would take a walk up the ‘Woodland Walk’ which takes you up and over the Blisworth Tunnel.

Above Blisworth Tunnel

Once we decided that we had burnt off enough calories it was time to go and put them back on again at Tea Junction, a narrowboat run by Tracy and Ray. If you get the chance then pay them a visit, they often post up on Facebook where they are going to be and they make a great selection of really naughty but nice cakes! After a bit of a chat we said our goodbyes and headed off up the towpath to the car and then back to Hannah the Narrowboat at Gayton Marina. Going to be freezing again overnight but we will be warm as toast again! We may have to pop to the Royal Oak in Blisworth for a pint of Timothy Taylors first though!

Tea Junction

Rewind – Back to Base

Heading back to base

Unfortunately we decided that we should head back to our home mooring as the temperatures were forecast to plummet for the next few days meaning a high probability of the canal freezing over again and the good lady of the boat has to go and cut some hair on Friday! We have had a lovely time with Martin and Sarah from Narrowboat Pride of Nuffield who are heading off to to the Llangollen Canal but on the bright side we had a lovely little cruise back to the marina at Gayton.

Once back in our berth we did not want to just sit on the boat so decided to drive to Sixfields in Northampton to have a walk along the upper Northampton Arm of the GU and River Nene at Upton Park, walking off tonights rum!

Rewind – New Years Eve

Cosy Boat New Years Eve

Well here we are, the very last day of 2016 looking forward to another wonderful year in 2017 messing around on our narrowboat! As the ice had finally melted we thought it a good idea to have a little potter along the Grand Union Canal up to Heyford Fields to turn around, a round trip of about 2hrs. We wanted to end up back with our friends on narrowboat ‘Pride of Nuffield’ moored stern to stern to make the food and drink transfers easier for tonights festivities. Although it was a bit chilly it was a nice little cruise and no matter how many times we chug along this stretch there is always something new to see on the cut.

After our turn at Heyford Fields I needed to pop inside for a wee and to stoke the fire so the good lady took over the controls. When I returned around five minutes later I was greeted by excess exhaust smoke and a lack of power! I was in a quandary here as I did not really want to pull over just in case we could not get her started again so elected to plod along at tick-over all the way back. In fairness the smoke did subside but the power was lacking, I feared the worst and that our slightly sticky valve had stuck once and for all, or on the brighter side it did pass through my mind that it could be the exhaust manifold. We managed to get back to our mooring spot easily enough and Martin from Pride of Nuffield shouted over to us that we should check the weed hatch. Once we were tied up I put her into neutral and gave her some revs and she seemed absolutely fine with no load on so Martin could well be right. He is such a nice chap he was down our weed hatch like a Jack Russell down a rabbit hole and we did indeed have rags around the prop although it would seem not enough to have had the effect it had. Perhaps when we stopped some fell of naturally as when I put her back in gear under load she seemed fine! Let’s hope that is the end of that little drama!

After a little siesta in preparation for this evenings shenanigans the good lady started cooking the food and by 7.30pm we were aboard Pride of Nuffield enjoying a few drinks, laughs and too much food! As the clock struck midnight we toasted the new year in with some Babycham (a bizarre tradition now between us and Pride of Nuffield!) and were treated to some fireworks coming from Gayton Village.

Have a happy, peaceful and enjoyable 2017 everyone!

Rewind – Ice Breakers in The Grand Union Canal

Ice in the marina

We were pretty determined to spend New Years Eve out on the canal rather than in our marina berth as our friends aboard narrowboat ‘Pride of Nuffield’ had come down this way for the Christmas period. Temperatures overnight had plummeted and the canal was frozen and worse still was that the marina itself had also frozen too and it seemed a lot thicker than the canal was. By lunchtime it was not looking any better so we made the call to give it a go and tentatively nudge forward out of our berth to see just how bad it was. Once I had started going forward I thought ‘I’m not stopping now, lets just go for it!’. Turning was the hardest part but with a bit of forward and backing we broke enough ice to get out and onto the mainline canal.
We only traveled around 30 or so minutes north from Gayton towards Bugbrooke but we had already talked about a spot that would be good which gives plenty of sunshine for our solar panels (if it’s actually sunny), a TV signal and internet – what more do we need apart from beer and wine, and yes we have plenty of that on-board too!

Rewind – The Grand Adventure 2016

Sunny Evening on the Canal

An entertaining and often funny look at our journey chugging along the Grand Union Canal aboard Hannah the Narrowboat with our friends Martin and Sarah aboard their own boat Pride of Nuffield. We travelled from Gayton Marina in Northamptonshire through the Blisworth Tunnel, which is one of the longest in the UK and through Stock Bruerne, Cosgrove, Milton Keynes and on to Leighton Buzzard before turning around and heading back to Gayton Marina. We really do take life slowly on our canal journeys preferring to stop at any spot we feel like rather than pile in the miles! You could probably do this journey in under a week if you wanted but that’s not the way we do things. This light hearted film takes a look at where we went and what we got up to, including a spot of Pokémon hunting!

Apologies for ‘Lee, what ya doing’ – holiday joke!